Do the Los Angeles Rams have what it takes to pull off a Super Bowl upset?

Los Angeles Rams, NFL, Super Bowl

The Los Angeles Rams are gearing up to face the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl this Sunday, and we’re here to preview how they can get the win!

It’s been quite the season for the Rams and despite a certain fan base still being salty they even made it to the Super Bowl, Los Angeles is set to try and topple the dynasty known as the New England Patriots. There’s a lot of football fans behind the Rams for the first time over, united by the dislike for the Patriots and their supposed “underdog” status(which nobody outside of Boston is buying).

If you’re a new Rams fan, you need to know who you’re rooting for this Sunday and we’re here to go over the team and preview who the most important players are. Before we get into the players, we have to start at the top with the brain child of the whole team.

Coaching Staff – Sean McVay might be one of the best coaches in the NFL and would certainly take a big step if he can beat the Hooded One, Bill Belichick this week. He’s won 24 of his 32 regular season games as head coach and the playoff record now stands at 2-1 after the NFC Championship game. From a photographic memory to leading a dynamic offense for the past two years which has finished first and second in points per game, McVay represents the new wave of coaching in the NFL.

McVay gets all of the attention from the coaching ranks and runs the offense while also being the head coach, but there is a man who goes a little under the radar from the Rams staff. Wade Phillips is the defensive coordinator and manages a lot of egos on that side of the ball. Los Angeles was super smart to bring in a veteran defensive mind to run that side of the ball to let McVay do his thing. Phillips figuring out a way to get pressure on Tom Brady this Sunday will be one of the most important factors of the game.

Quarterback – It’s probably unwise to project Jared Goff to out-play Tom Brady on the other side of the ball, but he’s going to likely need to come close for the Rams to have a serious chance. The scary part if you’re a Rams fan is that Goff has really hit the skids after the crazy high scoring Chiefs game in Week 11.

Since that game, Goff has only thrown seven touchdowns in seven games and four of those came in one game against the hapless 49ers defense in Week 17. To win this game, Goff and McVay are going to have to find a way to exploit the Patriots pass defense that finished 22nd in the league, giving up about 246 yards per game.

Running Back – For much of the season, this would have been a spot where we talk about how great Todd Gurley is and he’s one of the most dominant players in football. A knee injury and some ineffective play have really thrown this position into a murky status because C.J. Anderson has been playing at a very high level for the Rams since Week 16. He’s filled in for Gurley extremely well, rushing for over 100 yards in three of four games. It actually got to the point Gurley was possibly benched in the NFC title game.

I say possibly because it’s still pretty hard to believe that Todd Gurley got benched in the most important game of the season up to that point. Anderson didn’t produce much against the Saints defense but Gurley only touched the ball five times. The smart money says that Gurley has been injured for a little while now, but the biggest question is whether he’s able to get healthy for the Super Bowl. Even if he’s not, it’s imperative the Rams run the ball well enough to have a credible threat to make their play action game work to make Goff’s life easier.

Wide Receiver – I’m not sure how to properly express how important Cooper Kupp was to this passing game. One of the reasons Goff struggled down the stretch was because he didn’t have Kupp as that security blanket. Kupp ran the majority of his routes out of the slot and was seemingly always open for Goff to move the chains. Josh Reynolds has done his best to fill the role, but hans’t been near the consistent force Kupp was in the Rams offense. This week would be a great time for him to step up and have a big game, obviously.

Los Angeles ran the 11 personnel package well over 90 percent of the time in the regular season, meaning they had three receivers on the field almost every play. Since Reynolds has been a little hit or miss in his playing time, the burden is going to fall onto Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. What will be interesting is to see how the Patriots treat these two. Belichick has a history of taking away the top weapon for a team, and I would think that would be Cooks since he’s more explosive downfield. Woods getting open in the intermediate game is going to help decide this game, and Cooks will have to make the most of whatever opportunity he can get.

Tight End – With the loss of Kupp, both Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee have been getting a little more work in the passing game. That could be the way to try and attack the Patriots, because they gave up almost 900 had to tight ends this season and a whooping 11 touchdowns. It would be something else if a game that carries so many big names in the NFL, Everett or Higbee emerges as the difference maker for Los Angeles this Sunday.

Offensive Line – There’s a reason the Rams ended in the top five in passing yards and rushing yards this season and it’s not just all of their skill players. The offensive line is among the best in the league and also only allowed 33 sacks on the season. They’ll need to control the line of scrimmage, anchored by veteran tackle Andre Whitworth. The Rams offense won’t be able to do much if they don’t win the battle up front.

Defense – You can make the very strong argument that the two most important players for the Rams are Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh in the middle. One of the most effective ways to bother Tom Brady is to get pressure right up the middle. Brady is very good at manipulating the pocket when the pressure comes from the outside. When it comes from the middle, Brady isn’t the most fleet of foot to roll to the outside. Such and Donald can make life incredibly difficult for Brady.

In the secondary, Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters are going to be tasked with containing Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and others. Talib has really been a key component for the defense this season. When Talib has been off the field, teams averaged 1.7 more yards per pass attempt, 7.5 percent higher explosive pass rate and an eight percent higher pass success rate. The Rams defense definitely has a solid chance to keep the Patriots offense under wraps, even if they can’t fully stop them. This should be a great game on Sunday and the Rams have every chance to bring the Patriots dynasty full circle, defeating the team the beat them to kick start their winning all those years ago.

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